Saying it “recognizes the serious threat” posed by “one of the most powerful storms in recorded history,” the National Credit Union Administration today attempted to reassure credit unions and their members that the regulator “remains ready” to provide assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm currently barreling across the Caribbean and expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend.

As part of its disaster preparedness, NCUA advised credit union staff to keep in contact with local authorities and to make sure they provide their examiners with emergency contact information. Credit unions needing assistance should contact their regional offices, NCUA added.

At its present course, Hurricane Irma could make landfall in Florida by early Sunday. Most credit unions in the storm’s path, the agency indicated, have already closed or plan to close as the storm approaches.

According to the website of Florida Governor, Rick Scott, hurricane and storm surge watches are in effect for parts of South Florida and the Florida Keys. Mandatory evacuation orders have also been issued in Miami Dade and Monroe Counties and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued in Broward and Collier Counties. Additional orders are expected as the storm nears.

When a disaster strikes, NCUA explained that its personnel operate under three priorities: to ensure the safety of credit union staff; to keep facilities and operations available to members; and to provide material and technical assistance, as needed, to affected credit unions.

Federal assistance will be available for the impacted regions, with President Trump having already issued disaster declarations for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida.

Under the NCUA’s disaster assistance policy for these areas, the agency will, where necessary: encourage credit unions to make loans with special terms and reduced documentation to affected members; guarantee lines of credit for credit unions through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund; make loans to meet the liquidity needs of member credit unions through the Central Liquidity Facility; and re-schedule routine examinations of affected credit unions.

Finally, NCUA examiners will remain in close contact with the affected local credit unions to offer assistance. The NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives can provide urgent needs grants of up to $7,500 to low-income credit unions that experience sudden costs to restore operations interrupted by the storm.